When it comes to Anita Tedaldi's story of placing her adopted son with another family, I am torn. I want to be angry. I want to be compassionate. The two sides of myself argue with one another until I find myself tossing both sides to the wind as I remember what is at the core of this story: the child.
As a mother who searched high and low to find the best possible parents for my firstborn child, I can't imagine how I would have felt had her Mom decided she wasn't bonding and placed her with another family. While I understand that the adoption in this particular case was not a domestic infant adoption, I can't remove the birth mother from an adoption story. We don't know her story, whether she was still alive or if she believed that her child would be cared for by one family. She may not know that her child has been passed around like an object but my heart still breaks and seethes for her, whatever her story. I have had to accept an additional caregiver as my daughter's parents divorced and her Mom remarried. While not the same as shuffling her around from family to family, it was a mental challenge to accept. I am lucky in the fact that I am able to see my daughter grow and adjust to life with a (wonderful) stepfather. How might this birth mother feel when and if she learns of the disruption and re-adoption, years down the line?
Still, as a birth mother, I want to feel that compassion. I wasn't always offered that compassion, having been villainized and shunned by much of society as a woman who didn't love her child enough. (Their words, not mine.) I've been in the worst place a mother can find herself: uncertain of whether or not she can provide the best life for her child. Due to health and financial issues, I felt as though I couldn't provide for my child. On that level, I understand what Tedaldi experienced. In fact, she one-upped me in that she sought out counseling. The agency through which I placed didn't offer such a thing. I want to believe that the counselor that she worked with helped her weigh the pros and the cons, better than her agency did prior to the adoption. Furthermore, while I don't agree that her being lauded as a hero on blogs and on television shows is particularly on the mark, I do find this quote from a the Motherlode blog brings up a good point.
While rare, failure to bond does happen (in some adoptions, as in some biological births), and to pretend otherwise is to do a disservice to both children and parents. Anita was not prepared for what she faced. The agency who screened her should probably have rejected her. Exploring those things is part of exploring adoption.
Similar to the life I seem to be accidentally living, her story is one that, hopefully, is educating people. I don't see her as a hero. I am not going to give her a big award for what she has done. I do hope, however, that society is learning something by hearing her story.
Adoption is not butterflies and rainbows. Agencies are dropping balls.
Reform is needed.
In the end, my anger and compassion conflict don't matter as much as the child in question. I am hopeful that he is now with a family that will love him even when he secludes himself in his room as a teenager, his iPod turned too loud to hear the requests that he join them for dinner. I am hopeful that he has found a family who believes that when the tough gets going, you go with it. I am hopeful that he is with a family who understands that the love for a child needs to be unconditional, maybe more so when the child has had a rocky, tumultuous start in life. I am hopeful that he is with a family who, when he asks them questions about his first family and the adoptive mother who gave him away, understands the delicate balance of truth, age appropriate information and reminders that he is with a family that would move mountains to support his journey to find himself, whoever he might be. I am hopeful that, whatever our feelings toward Tedaldi, we can all agree that this child needs no more emotional turmoil; he needs a forever family. I hope he's found it.
Jenna Hatfield writes about her personal adoption story on The Chronicles of Munchkin Land and adoption in general at AdoptionBlogs.com.
She also writes about the family side of fire life at Stop, Drop & Blog.
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